Today marks yet another office day. The weather has kind of been cramping our style recently. We’ve had 6 days straight of thunderstorms and rain, making field work hard (but not impossible). We work around the storms as best as possible by doing lower elevation stations and getting out a bit earlier to avoid the daily afternoon storms. I’ve heard that in past years, the field crew has been helicoptered to photo stations, and was told it’d be the same this year. Up until yesterday, I was starting to think it was all a big sham to encourage people to apply for the really awesome job made even more awesome by helicopter rides in the Rockies. My continuous, “so when are we going to have helicopter access?” question was pretty much always followed with a, “we should be getting them by the end of the week.” Yesterday, after much anticipation, we finally got to fly to our first station. While, I personally love the hiking part, helicopter flying is a passable second. The major advantage being that we were able to knock off 4 stations by lunchtime (as opposed to our usual 1 to 4 stations by 5pm), which was especially helpful yesterday when a giant storm was rolling our way. As we were finishing up our last station, we started to hear thunder every couple of minutes. We radioed for our helicopter, and in a scene that could have been right out of a movie, Olivier our pilot, landed as the wind took a drastic change of direction and the sky started to rain buckets. We got out just in the nick of time! Without a helicopter, there’s no way we would have been able to hike to any of our stations before the storm blew in (not to mention the 20km approach it would have taken).

We were up for heli day number two this morning, taking off at around 9am. As soon as we were far enough off the ground to see the continental divide, it was pretty clear that most of our stations would not be possible today. What a letdown. It may be our 6th day of storms, but they never roll in before noon, so to see them at 9am was a bit of a shock. We flew around a bit, and scoped out access points for other stations, and made the executive decision that this morning was not for photo-taking.

So we’re back to office work again. Chris is manning the original-repeat photo overlays, Mandy’s processing photos from a McArthur survey so we can get to work on locating them, Stuart’s plugging away at building the mother-load of all maps, and I’m on blog writing. I’ve just got word from Mandy that since we’re in a little pocket of sunshine here at the Gap, and we’re up for hover exit recert in the next few days, the crew is going to practice disembarking and re-entering hovering aircrafts. So I’m off for now. Keep a watch for more great photos of hover exits – coming soon.

The detective workThe office at the Livingstone Gap firebase

Keepin’ it real, The MLP Crew